Toscas Group’s sense of community involvement has always been core to the organization. In fact, Toscas Group’s first true partner was a community organization.
“I modeled Toscas Group after the balance I enjoyed at University of Illinois. My curriculum included business planning and strategic exercises, as well as heavy community involvement such as working with the East St. Louis Action Research Project,” explained Pericles Toscas. “I wanted Toscas Group to reflect the same environment.”
Toscas Group’s work with the community allows them to bring industry best practice and innovation to organizations with traditionally limited options. More importantly, Toscas Group brings strategy and ideas on how to leverage finite capital resources.
“I realized that many of the global issues I had studied related to what was going on at our local levels. Macro to micro, sure, but the same principles applied.”
Pericles had researched how large influxes of dollars impacted small countries and how effective they were at actually helping solve the struggling countries’ issues.
“You see a country take out loans to buy tractors, and other modern farming gear. Then, a few years later, you would see the tractor rusting out and someone farming by hand right next to it. Why? There was no infrastructure to support the initiative.”
The same issue was happening with community organizations on a smaller level. Finite technology resources were stretched thin, and a system of grants setup acquisitions without strategy. Purchases were made without any idea of how to support the new infrastructure, or if it was even the right item to buy.
“I remember an organization showed me a scanning system that someone ‘sold’ them. They had a $30,000 grant and coincidentally the vendor priced the system at $30,000. It didn’t even do what it was supposed to do. Somewhere a vendor made his commission and a community organization footed the bill.”
Toscas Group’s response was to help community organizations by developing strategy that included developing core infrastructure. Having a strategy helped organizations respond when there was grant or other dollars available. Suddenly there was a plan of action, and they knew what the next acquisition should be for their organization and why.
“When we first applied this method I met with a somewhat skeptical board of directors. We had purchased equipment with no ‘flashiness’. It was nuts and bolts stuff, no netbooks, laptops, or desktops- just core items needed to develop infrastructure. A few years into the project we met with the DCEO, a sponsor for one of the grants. The meeting went great, the DCEO representative said, ‘No one is doing it like this. This is very refreshing.’ Most people would buy the most desktops they could, set them up in a room, and call it a general access lab. These labs were garbage. We wanted to pair core services of the organization with the underlying technology. We had to spend smart and with purpose.”
Recently, Toscas Group has co-developed a community-training lab at the 200 E 75th St facility. The facility takes advantage of Toscas Group resources including equipment and staff.
“We carry all types of equipment internally for our client partners, as well as for MobiLiT projects,” explained Pericles Toscas, “We decided to free up existing gear for the community-training lab, and purchase anything else it may need.”
Toscas Group also helped run new electrical and ethernet wiring to ‘light up’ the new lab areas. Martel Holmes, a hardware technician with Toscas Group, has excelled in managing the community-training lab, leading many of the classes himself.
“The newly built lab gives me the opportunity to give back to the community I spent my early childhood in,” said Holmes. “I have the resources now to teach the youth and elderly computer skills that will help as they enter this new age of technology. It also gives younger high school students a place to come and complete school assignments and check their emails. There are so many benefits to having this lab, I’m looking forward to teaching and creating many other classes in the in the future.”
Toscas Group is grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to give back with service. We think it’s both a responsibility and a privilege to give back our time, talent, and resources to our local economic community and to our broader business community.